Type of Document Master's Thesis Author Stilwell, Daniel J. URN etd-01242009-063341 Title Controlling the cooperative behavior of a system of automous mobile robots Degree Master of Science Department Electrical Engineering Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Bay, John S. Committee Chair Baumann, William T. Committee Member VanLandingham, Hugh F. Committee Member Keywords
Date of Defense 1993-12-15 Availability restricted AbstractA novel material transport system is presented that uses 'swarms' of small
autonomous mobile robots to collectively lift and move palletized loads. The robots are
relatively unsophisticated in design and have no advanced sensory or communications
capability. There is no central or supervisory controller directing the robots. Each robot
must be able react to its environment autonomously, yet cooperate within a team of
similarly designed robots.
Reactive and behavior-based principles are the basis of the system design.
Although the entire material transport scenario is presented in this thesis in the context of
a reactive behavior-based control architecture, emphasis is placed on developing a single
behavior that allows the robots to move a loaded pallet once it has been lifted by a team
of robots. Toward this goal, a centralized control scheme is derived that directs the
actions of the robots while underneath a loaded pallet. It is shown that this approach
produces an 'optimal' distribution of work among the robots. Alternatively, a distributed
control scheme is derived that allows each robot to autonomously assist in moving a
palletized load. This approach assumes a team of robots is capable of electing a leader
and uses the dynamics of a caster as the basis for the development of a control law. Both
the central and distributed control schemes are verified via computer simulation.
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